- In a bid to build on momentum generated by recent congress of Southern African Trade Unions (COSATU), the body along with unions and progressive organisations of civil society from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, have agreed to develop a new strategy to take forward campaign for democracy in Zimbabwe and Swaziland.
Agreement was made with ultimate goal of building a southern African people's movement for justice and democracy.
Meeting held in Sandton in South Africa early this week agreed among other things to convene a civil society conference on 'Zimbabwe-post-the-deal and where to from here?' to be held inside Zimbabwe and involve whole SADC region to assess situation and develop a common response on strengthening of democracy and on-going transformation based on fundamental interests of people.
Meeting agreed to intensify campaign for a 'Week of global action on Swaziland', including non-handling of goods to Swaziland, to be held on 27 October to 1 November, 2008, in which trade unions should play a leading role.
A statement issued by COSATU today shows that meeting also agreed to establish a joint task team from Swazi and SA unions who will be at centre of boycott, owing to their strategic location in economy.
Statement shows that meeting agreed to actively participate in Southern African Social Forum in Swaziland from 16 to 18 October, to strengthen regional people's initiatives and in solidarity with struggling people of Swaziland, using forum as a space for raising international profile of Swazi struggle and as an opportunity to build and strengthen their capacity to wage a sustainable struggle for democracy and economic justice.
"It agreed to develop a code of leadership by civil society as a model for exemplary, ethical and democratic leadership in region, particularly at state level, to ensure credibility in political and institutional processes of region, so they can enjoy confidence of people," it says.
Meeting further agreed to initiate a SADC transformation project to help civil society to participate in formulation of new-look, vibrant, dynamic and inclusive SADC structures.
"This should allow citizens of region full participation, satisfactory representation and regular and meaningful influence in affairs of this important regional body. It will also be a way to challenge appointment of undemocratic leaders at helm of strategic institutions such as SADC Organ Troika, failure of SADC to enforce compliance amongst member states on existing agreements and protocols, and double standards, such as seen in monitoring of elections in Swaziland recently, where the SADC observer mission accepted an electoral outcome conducted in an environment of banned political parties and arrests of political activists," it says.
It adds that this goes together with indecisiveness around Zimbabwe and Swaziland for such a long time.
In summary, this project is about renewal of SADC to reflect new challenges of regional social, political and economic configuration, statement says.
Meeting further agreed to initiate a loose network of regional activists to build a regional movement for mass mobilisation, in form of a 'SADC People's Justice Campaign', to develop structured and sustained solidarity focus and support for democracy, workers' struggles, landless people's struggles, economic justice and human rights throughout region.
This movement according to statement should be properly discussed at coming Southern African Social Forum in Swaziland, so as to give it meaning and clarify its purpose in more concrete terms.
Coming congress of Southern African Trade Union Co-ordination Council in Botswana next week should be able to strengthen these initiatives, given centrality of trade union movement in success of this very determined regional civil society programme, statement concludes.
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